6. Kakslauttanen, Finland
If the hardest decision you have to make on vacation is skating over the Finnish Lapland tethered to a reindeer or a fleet of huskies, your vacation is a success. Kakslauttanen offers some kickass winter activities. Take a day trip aboard the icebreaker Sampo (available mid-December through April) as it plows through the frozen Gulf of Bothnia, then suit up in a dry suit and plunge into the icy waters. Rather stay on land? Ski or snowboard down Saariselkä’s two fells, just a 15-minute drive from Kakslauttanen. Try your hand at ice fishing. Ride through the snow-blanketed forest on horse back. Then for the main attraction, go aurora hunting. You can take a nighttime journey on sleigh, snow tank, snowmobile, or skis to try and catch a glimpse of the dancing aurora borealis. Visit in the fall or summer, and you’ll enjoy activities like gold panning, fishing, canoeing, and mountain biking.
Where to stay: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is the perfect playground for snowy sportsmen. All of the above activities are available through the resort. You can lodge in glass igloos that open up to the night sky, Kelo-glass igloos—cozy log cabins that house a private sauna and fireplace, and lead into a glass igloo attachment—traditional log chalets, legitimate snow igloos (which hover around -3° to -6°), or a century-old house.
Best time to go: If the goal of your trip is to sneak a peek at the Northern Lights, book your stay any time between late August to late April. Note: For about 30 days in June and July, the sun doesn’t set below the horizon at all.
Expert tip: Finland is home to 39 national parks, so surrounding yourself in some breathtaking, soul-resetting nature is very easy. You’ll practically stumble into them.
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